Program & Agenda

Plankton Art Exhibit

Date: Monday, 27 February 2017 - Friday, 3 March 2017  Time: 07:00 - 19:00
Location: Foyer Area, Outside Exhibit Hall 2

Plankton: The Bizarre and the Beautiful –Ernst Haeckel, his Art, the HMS Challenger Expedition, and the Glass Models of the Blaschkas

A small collection of the intricate lithographs of the renowned 19th-century biologist and illustrator Ernst Haeckel, one of the world’s most celebrated naturalists and artists, will be on display in an art exhibition in the lobby of the Honolulu Convention Center during the 2017 ASLO Meeting.  Featured will be startlingly beautiful images of Siphonophores, Medusae, and Radiolaria created by Haeckel for three of the reports of the HMS Challenger expedition. The ship,a steam corvette, circumnavigated the world from 1872-76, discovering and cataloging nearly 5,000 new species from the depths of Earth's oceans. The Haeckel images that will be showcased have been selected from the images published in Art Forms from the Abyss, a volume of Haeckel’s work compiled and written by Peter Williams, Dylan Evans, David Roberts and David Thomas 

Among the artists inspired by the work of Haeckel was a father-son team of Dresden glass smiths, the Blaschkas. They created spectacularly beautiful and true-to-life glass models of planktonic organisms, as well flowers and other animals, primarily designed as teaching aids. The Honolulu exhibit will feature images of some of the work of the Blaschkas, who were contemporaries of and consulted with Haeckel. The images represent pieces from the Cornell University and the Museum of Ireland, Natural History collections as described in A Sea of Glass by Drew Harvell.

The Challenger made landfall in Honolulu in July of 1875, and hosted a visit from Hawaiian King Kalākaua and his retinue. Included in the Honolulu exhibit is a small collection of historical boards highlighting the point of intersection of the historical Challenger Expedition and a piece of Hawaiian cultural history.

We extend special thanks to ASLO for funding the Haeckel and Blaschka displays, to Dr. David Karl for providing access to the historical photographs and funding the historical portion of the exhibit, to Dr. Rosie Alegado for providing translations of text from historic Native Hawaiian newspaper stories that covered the Challenger’s port call in Honolulu, and to Nancy Hulbirt, SOEST illustrator, who provided assistance in drafting the historical boards. We also especially thank Dr. Drew Harvell who was inspired by the idea of a Plankton Art exhibit to offer access to the Blaschka images. Finally, we gratefully acknowledge the artistry and passion of Peter J. le B. Williams, who was the driving force behind creating the composition and design of the boards, giving generously of his time. He in turn wishes to give sincere thanks for assistance and input to Drew Harvell, David Roberts and Dylan W. Evans. Exhibit boards were printed by Hagadone Printers, Honolulu. Selected images from the exhibit will remain on display at the University of Hawaii.